What to do in London if you’re a cultural Jew

As a public service announcement to all the people who’ve asked me this in the last week, here’s my list:

  • hang out at the Heeb Film Festival this weekend, at the Everyman in Hampstead. They’re showing free shorts most of the time, and the sofas are velvet. Need I say more?
  • sign up for the YadArts mailing list. Their strapline is “radical diaspora culture in the present tense” and they do a range of club nights/gigs/art stuff that is edgy and cool and inherently Jewish, but not in a crass way
  • go to Jewish Book Week in February. This is the most Jewish-intellectual fun you can have with your clothes on. Two years ago I heard an entertaining exchange between Melvyn Bragg and Will Self where Will kept calling Melvyn Lord Bragstein, and outed himself as a “deracinated Jew” and “only Jewish Quarterly”. Last year Jaques Derrida was there (he was alive)
  • go to Limmud. Called “the Jewish Edinburgh Fringe”, the biggest event is conference in Nottingham over the Xmas week
  • sign up to the Joseph’s Bookstore mailing list. They’re in Temple Fortune (NW11) and do a whole range of events from cultural to literary and back. Cafe Also is next door, I think they own it, and it’s kinda like 1920’s Vienna, but cooler
  • if you are of a holocaust/twentieth century Jewish history bent, then check out the events at the Wiener Library/Institute of Contemporary History. I’ve been to a couple of these, because I’m contractually bound to do all things Holocaust-related, and the other attendees are a mix of age ranges, and many of them speak with mittel European accents
  • get coffee in Hampstead on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The Coffee Cup is best
  • if you’re interested in music, check out the Jewish Music Institute’s website; they do a whole host of courses, and gigs and klezmer and all that kinda jazz
  • if you’re of the evening class/short course bent, try the London Jewish Cultural Centre, the LJCC, which I think grew in some post-political way out of the Spiro Institute. I heard Andrew Davies talking about writing the screenplay for Daniel Deronda, it was fab. Go by tube; the few available parking spaces are grasped by people with bigger cars and more parking-nerve than you’ll ever have
  • keep watching for the launch of the London JCC – it’s gonna be funkier than you can imagine. In a Jewish way
  • Fridays, Sundays and Wednesdays, you can do a walking tour of the Jewish old East End.

If there’s more, tell me. And, er, this is my first post, so hello.

8 thoughts on “What to do in London if you’re a cultural Jew

  1. Hello Sashinka,
    Welcome 🙂 I just moved back to London after living in the US (NY & MA) and being spoilt for ‘cool’ Jewish culture…glad to see this list. Will we bump into you at any of these things?

  2. And of course, listen to the SomethingJewish Radio Show on Resonance104.4fm in London, playing an eclectic mix from Jewish rap through to klezmer, every Sunday 3.30pm to 4.30pm…

  3. There’s an interesting story in this week’s Jewish Chronicle:
    The director of Jewish Book Week has resigned after just four months in the post, and suggested there had been differences with the organisation running the community’s premier literary event.
    Linda Kelsey, the former editor of Cosmopolitan and She magazines, resigned in November from the organisation which runs the annual JC-sponsored literary event at London’s Royal National Hotel and at other venues around the country.
    Ms Kelsey — who has since been named to a top post at Easy Living, the Condé Nast title due to be launched early next year — described the experience at Jewish Book Week as “a rather unsatisfactory one-night stand” when she had “been looking forward to a happy marriage.”

  4. i might be going to Vietnam this summer with some jewish and asian friends (one is a Vietamese citizen). I’m willing to bet some mad chedder that you (sashinka) can’t find any “cultural” jewish events for me to do there.

  5. don’t forget the new arts depot in north finchley. funky programme of gigs, concerts, comedy, art exhibitions, and an interior so damn cool that you think you’re in an iPod advert….
    …and then there’s the east finchley phoenix cinema. another fave Culturally Jewish hotspot, specially on saturday nights.

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